Becoming More Self-Sufficient: Fixing A Sliding Screen Door

This is a post that has been a long time coming.  When I first moved in with Jason, we both had pets.  He had Abby (who is almost officially half mine!) and Buddy…

Buddy

and I had Oscar and Charlotte.

Charlotte in the background… Oscar in the foreground.

Well, that first year was a little tough on the cats.  Mine were terrified of Abby; Buddy and Charlotte did not get along; and Oscar… well, Oscar just coped.  He’s sort of zen that way.

Packing for the Move

Within the first two weeks of moving in, Charlotte decided to make herself an escape hatch by chewing a Charlotte-sized hole through the screen door.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that we just let it go for the entire summer, suffering the occasional mosquito and black fly, and she continued to dive and in out of it like the formerly-feral cat that she still is.

A year later, I successfully managed to replace the screen, and as we were approaching the wedding, I decided to redo the screen on our back porch (right off our bedroom).  Since screen replacement is incredibly costly, I did it myself, and I thought you might appreciate a quick how-to, since it was one of the easiest projects I’ve done recently!

Materials:
Replacement Screen (enough to overlap at least 2 inches on each side of your door)
Spliner (little tool with wheels on each end found at most hardware stores in the screening section)
Spline (the material that holds your screen in place – I usually cut a three inch piece of this from the screen to be replaced before going into town to buy supplies to ensure I get the correct size spline)
Duct Tape
Razor Blade
Pliers
Cleaning Supplies

Materials

I started by removing the screen door and bringing into the house. This could easily be accomplished outside, but it was POURING on the day that I completed this task.  After cleaning it with soap and water, I  duct-taped the door (spline side up) to our linoleum floor. It’s important that you firmly secure the door in place, so you don’t mis-shape it with the screen when you’re attaching the spline and rolling it into the grooves. 

Next, I used the pliers and a flat screwdriver to remove the existing spline, which I discarded along with the former screen (ours was pretty chewed up).

At this point, I spread the new screen out over the door and used a piece of tape to secure each corner to the floor, leaving a little bit of give, as the screen gets pulled into place by the spline as you set it into the groove using the spliner.

Starting from the top, I cut four pieces of spline that were a bit longer than each side needed (25′ was more than enough for the door). I secured the top piece, then worked my way down the sides doing about a foot at a time on the right and left, removing excess spline when the entire piece was set in place and firmly setting in the ends with a flat head screwdriver. Finally, I set the bottom piece of spline in place. You want the screen to be tight, but not so tight that it bends the door frame.

Finally, I used a razor blade to trim the screen.

Replace the door, and you are done!

Just a quick word on screen products. We used Pet-D-Fence, a product from Lowes that I was initially super-skeptical about. Remember, Charlotte chews through screens like a little cat-weevil. That said, after a year of Charlotte throwing herself bodily at the screen and sticking to it about five feet up by her claws whenever she wants to come in, the screen doesn’t have a visible mark on it. This has been a phenomenal product and totally worth the slightly higher price!  This screening is a bit darker than traditional screen, but after a few days, you really won’t notice the difference.

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Wedding… Belated Wednesdays: Living in a Wedding Workshop

The wedding is just over two weeks away, which means that all of those excuses I used to have for delicately putting something off are basically gone.  And since we’ve been deluged by rain for the last five days (yes, I just said five days of pouring rain), it’s been an ample opportunity to focus on all of those paper goods that you need at a wedding but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on.

When I started planning my wedding, I had no idea how time consuming some of these things would be, and I feel blessed every day that I teach full time and though I do a lot of work in the summer (hello, lesson planning!), I can do that work from the privacy of my own living room and thus spend an hour and a half less in the car every day, which makes for some pretty serious spare time when it comes to trying to pull together last minute details for a wedding.  Friends, I’ve needed it!

So, after declaring this week the week of paper goods, I spent the majority of Sunday afternoon combing the internet for DIY ideas because all you need to do is get a $120.o0 printing estimate from Staples to realize that maybe that little $30 home printer you scoffed at six months ago might be your best option.  And let me just stop to say something about that $30 HP Laserjet 1000 that Jason picked up at Walmart six months ago: I scoffed.  I was wrong.  It has been a TANK!  I will note that using only the cartridges that came with it (though I did pick up a replacement pack just in case), it has printed 100 dual-color programs, 15 sheets of full-color escort cards, and a handful of other useful lists and bits that I’ve needed during this week’s crafting for merely the cost of the paper ($5.39/150 sheets).  I did send a homemade fingerprint wedding tree  (cobbled together from the beautiful tree at One Fab Day and a personalized monogram that I found at Wedding Chicks) to the printer at Stapes (paying $15 instead of the higher price of ordering it from an artist), and though the quality was nowhere near the quality of one that I’d ordered for a friend’s baby shower a few months ago from Etsy, I’m not really sure if it’s something we’d use as art or not, so I feel like that was a reasonable expense on something that I want to wait and see about.

What I’m most excited about, though, are the programs and escort cards.  Throughout the planning of our wedding, it’s been important to me that the pieces of the wedding that our guests physically interact with are the most detailed.  As such, I care about how we string our lights over the dance floor, but I care a bit more about the way the programs look and feel because sometimes things run a little slowly, and what else is going to captivate your attention during that wait?

Wedding Programs!

I started with a great tutorial over at Intimate Weddings, but while I liked her idea, I found that there were a few things that I needed to change.  I used similar materials, opting to design my program in Microsoft Word and leaving the basic program free of images because I’m not quite so tech savvy.  On the back, I created a wedding word search at Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker, opting for one that I could orient a bit differently on the page.  I was able to do this by cutting and pasting the completed word search from the printable computer file directly into my wedding program on Microsoft, shrinking the font, and then typing the words to find in all capital letters.

In terms of dimensions, my program is set in the landscape format as a two-columned document. It is surrounded by one inch external margins with a two inch margin between the columns to allow for centered folding without needing to cut anything.  Wanting to add a bit more color, I placed the monogram from Wedding Chicks that I’d used on our fingerprint tree directly underneath the crossword puzzle, ending the program with a gentle request for guests to transport their chairs back to the tent for the reception or ask another guest for help.

I then printed the programs in batches onto white card stock and folded them directly in half.  The most difficult part of the process proved to be cutting the corners with the 3M corner cutter (a bit hard to get through two layers of card stock.  As such, I chose to do this step before assembling the programs).  While the programs were printing, I used Jason’s Dremmel hand drill to bore a small hole in the bottom of each popsicle stick, forming a place to tie the ribbons later in the project.

Cutting Corners

Next, I ran a 3” strip of double sided tape along the center of the bottom of the program and placed a 2” strip on the back of a popsicle stick, centered and pressed the stick against the centered piece of double stick tape and then placed another on the front of the popsicle stick.

Securing the Handle

Finally, I placed a ring of glue from a glue stick around the edge of the program and pressed it firmly to close.

Gluing the Program

Next, I cut 1′ long pieces of pink and yellow ribbon (our wedding colors) and tied them in a simple slip-knot through the hole in the popsicle sticks, creating a simple ribbon tail.

Completing the Programs

And they were complete.

For my 90 programs, I used about 100 sheets of card stock (there were two or three misprints and a few mistakes), 2 rolls of double stick tape, 8 spools of 1/8” ribbon (3.5 yards/spool), 2 full sized Elmer’s glue sticks, 110 popsicle sticks (expect to break a few while drilling), a 3M corner cutter (which I found at Walmart for $4), and Jason’s Dremmel hand tool.

Waiting for the Wedding…

Next, I moved onto escort cards, which would also remind our guests of their meal choices.  At our wedding, we’re serving a chicken dish, a vegetarian dish, and an option for children (anyone under 12).  As such, I printed the cards, which I found over at Style Me Pretty, opting for their vegetarian, chicken and blank templates for the children.  I will admit that my handwriting comes nowhere close to the beauty of their calligraphy, but for a simple country wedding, I’m hoping it will suffice!

I was left with how to display the cards, when I suddenly remembered one of my favorite parts about summer, and something I hope to add to our homestead as soon as the wedding is over… a clothesline.

I was thrilled to find tiny wooden clothespins at Walmart for only $1.50/50 pack, and this, my friends, is how my guests will find their alphabetized escort cards (though please try to imagine them suspended between two white posts, hanging in the breeze of our reception).

Well, that’s what’s been going on for the last few days at our place.  I only have a few more paper goods to finish assembling, and then – hopefully – the weather will let me return to a garden that needs much, much weeding!

Wedding Wednesdays: Favors

When I started planning my wedding, I had so many ideas for favors: jars of homemade strawberry jam, a little satchel of vegetables from our garden with a sweet ribbon, homemade cookies in a tiny bag… things that take tons of time and are highly dependent on the season.  Well, folks… summer arrived, and I suddenly realized that six weeks to pull together a wedding goes way too fast… and who wants to spend eighty degree days in the kitchen trying to make 100 jars of jam and hoping they’ll gel?  Not this girl!

I returned to my Pinterest board, where I had found an adorable, wrapped chocolate design months ago, thinking that it could be a cute, simple favor if time started running out.  Because, honestly, my thoughts on favors are pretty simple: they should be edible, because – really – how many people need something with my name, my fiance’s name, and our wedding date stamped on it?  Those items are lovely, but they tend to linger at the back of people’s drawers and cupboards, and I really don’t want to add to someone else’s clutter (I have enough trouble with my own).  And since we’re having a photo booth at the wedding, with easily accessible photos from our photographer, I’m truly hoping that those memories will be far better reminders of the day!

Finished Favors

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to have my mom and my best friend up, and we were quickly able to assemble 120 adorable chocolate favors.  We started out with a box of Lindt White Chocolate Truffles, three rolls of 200′ Spritz Streamers , and 100 yards of Bowdabra silver bow wirefrom Michael’s (total cost somewhere around $54, including the chicks we bought for the kids’ tables).

Favors for the little ones!

We set up a bit of an assembly line, with Mom cutting six inch strips of streamers and Allie cutting four inch sections of bow wire.  I was wrapping the chocolates.

I started by taking four pieces of streamer.

I then layered them on top of each other, overlapping by about 1/2”.

Next, I rolled the wrapped chocolate in the streamers, wrapping them tightly and twisting the ends until the entire wrapper was covered in streamer.

Next, we tied the ends with the silver bow wire.

Trim and you are done.

One hundred and twenty of these took just about two hours, plenty of time to watch a sappy (or in our case, slightly twisted) romantic comedy and look forward to getting to indulge in a little white chocolate on the evening of the wedding!

Homestead Update

When I went to Boston a week ago today, I had every intention of continuing to write regular posts, but between a hotel with limited wi-fi access and a weekend of wedding-related activities (and my 30th birthday!), not nearly as much got done on the blog as needed.  This time of year always feels a little breathless, as the first truly hot summer days descend in a haze of weeding, home reorganization and preparation for canning.  Throw in a wedding to prepare for and host, and everything that used to feel normal about my days has pretty much evaporated.  That said, I wouldn’t want anything else at this point.

Always a welcome sight at the end of a long day…

In the garden, things have finally started progressing at a rate that I’m excited to discuss.  This year, we’ve been plagued by a super slow growing season and the fear that not one of

Tomatoes … finally growing!

our seventy-something tomato plants would make it.  Apparently, our problem was soil temperature because as that has climbed over the last nine days, so have our plants!  I think one of the things I struggle most with on this blog is adequately cataloging our failure and my fear of failure, as putting it in words somehow makes it seem that much more eminent.  So in that vein: I’m worried about the peppers, which have been plagued by flea beetles all season.  We’ve been hitting them up regularly with a mixture of garlic, hot sauce, Dr. Bronner’s natural soap and water, and we’re hoping to see some progress, but it has been SLOW.  We’ve also really struggled with flea beetles in our cucumbers and have had to replace some of the plants (a complete repeat of last year).  We’ve planted nasturtiums with them to try to cut back on cucumber beetles, and – cross your fingers – we haven’t seen any yet!  What do you do to protect delicate pepper and cucumber plants, and how do you keep the dreaded flea beetle away?

One Week Old Chicks – Note the Feathers on the Wings!

And in the coop?  Chicks!  Our hatch yielded 21 of the healthiest, most active chicks we’ve ever had.  So healthy, in fact, that after six days in the back bedroom nursery, they had to be moved out to the coop.

Chick-mania!

This year, rather than constructing our modified coop brooder out of cardboard, I used some scrap wood from our earlier coops and the clear panels from an old cold frame that blew apart in a storm last year.  I’ve slowly begun to expose them to a bit more light and sun from outside (keeping a careful eye on drafts).

Abby keeping a watchful eye on her “babies”. Do note that at this stage, she is never left alone with the chicks. In about three weeks, I’ll be less careful about chaperoning her, but the chicks are still way too small to protect themselves, and I’m not sure she realizes they are chickens (and meant to be protected) yet.

Rather than keeping a thermometer in the coop with the little ones, we’ve been monitoring their activity and adjusting accordingly.  Right now, we have one lower and one higher lamp and lots of space for them to move around in, and we’ve only begun to see the first hints of flight!

Flight!

The 2012 Hatch & 100th Post on My Rural Garden

I love it when things work out this way!  What better way to celebrate 100 posts than with a few success stories… or 21 success stories, as chick number 21 is breaking from his shell as we speak (for some reason all chicks in the incubator are “he” and all chicks in the brooder are “she”… this makes no sense to me as an English teacher, but seems to pop out of my mouth every time I start talking about the new babies).  It hasn’t been easy.  Days 1 – 18 of the hatch, I was a model of calm chicken keeping… then day 19 rolled around… I couldn’t successfully candle either of the two eggs I tried… I was convinced that every one was dead… until a pip appeared the morning of day 20, and it’s been a wild ride since there.  By yesterday morning, we had one very wobbly chick in the incubator, and this morning, I woke up to twenty!

This is only our second batch of chicks.  Last year, we ordered 27 (26 Buff Orpingtongs & 1 Mystery Chick) from Murray McMurray hatchery, and I couldn’t be more happy with that investment.  From those 27, we culled 17 for meat and kept ten (nine, now, after Frank’s departure), and from those 10, we were able to produce at least 22 (if not 26) more.  With our rotating breeding program (breed Frank Y1, Elliot Y2, Frank’s Offspring Y3 — maybe Elliot’s Y4), we will be able to keep a sustainable flock for at least three years before having to seek out new members.

So how did we do it?  I’ve talked about our breeding program specifics in a few places, but I haven’t yet gone into much detail on our Hovabator 1588.  Like so many things in our lives, Jason and I spent almost two weeks researching before we made our purchase, opting for both the Hovabator and the egg turner because both of our jobs are particularly demanding in the spring, and we wanted the most fool-proof method possible.  I am a worrier, you see…  We purchased from Stromberg Chickens, and we found their service to be prompt and good (note: I am in no way affiliated with Stromberg Chickens at this time, nor did we receive anything for this review).  Both the incubator and turner arrived in good condition a day or so before they had predicted.  Jason assembled them before I got home from work, and within three or four days (after a good 24 hour test run), we had the incubator up and running.

There are a lot of things I’ve liked about the Hovabator 1588.  The observation window was a must for me, as I’m just too curious to pass by the incubator without a peek.  I also think that when we have children, someday, this will be an excellent feature!  In addition to that, the new digitized model holds both heat and humidity beautifully, keeping a constant temperature of 99.8 degrees (with mild .1 degree fluctuations) and a solid humidity of 60% (with the first water well kept full).  I added about 1/2 c. room temperature, distilled water each day and found that it kept everything constant (the entire hatch took us 1 gallon of distilled water).  On day 18, I removed our egg turner and filled the second well, and the device had no trouble maintaining a humidity of 65%, until the proper hatch started, when it rose to between 70 – 73%.  This is truly a plug into the wall & go incubator.  I will note that once a half dozen eggs pipped and our first chick came out, I removed the little red ventilation plug to allow for more air flow in the unit.

The only negative of this incubator is the amount of condensation that it produced during the last three days of the hatch.  There were constantly small beads of condensation from about days 4 – 18, but on night 21, the condensation reached the digital unit, beading water in there, and I had a very nervous few hours early this morning, when I was worried that the unit might short out… no such problems to report!

Condensation in the Incubator on Day 22

This morning, with a humidity of 72%, I did break one rule and removed a few completely dry chicks from the incubator because they were hopping around like popcorn and really disturbing the newborns.  Humidity returned within 30 seconds, and I was careful to do this when no one was attempting an escape from an egg. I placed them into their brooders, taking extra care to place marbles in the waterers, as they were much more prone to drowning than our mailed chicks (perhaps remembering the eggs so recently?).

Things I learned:

  1. Use distilled water in your incubator, particularly if you have a well.  It limits bacteria and can be kept at room temperature to increase humidity more quickly.
  2. During lockdown, water can be added to the troughs with aquarium tubing and an Equine syringe.  I only ran tubing to the second (larger) well in my Hovabator, and though I was – initially – worried about humidity, the chicks create a lot of humidity on their own when they come out of the shell.
  3. Consider transitioning your eggs from turner to cartons (or the egg turner plates removed from the turner.  This holds the eggs steadily in place during the hatch and prevents the chicks from playing soccer with their siblings.  I was skeptical about this, but after watching my first hatch, I’ll always use cartons/egg plates.  I will note that I had intended to use cartons for this hatch, but one end of my incubator wasn’t level and one of the cartons got soaked on day 18.  I swapped in the egg plates (removed from the turner) and most of those eggs hatched.
  4. A newborn chick is nothing like the three day old chicks you get at the hardware store or from the hatchery.  They are tiny, soaking wet, bumbling and incredibly uncoordinated.  Give them an hour.  Once they start drying off and learning how to use their legs they look less like drunken zombies and more like the chicks you have loved in the past.  I will admit, though, that for about thirty seconds after the first one emerged, I had a horrible moment of “what have I gotten myself into?”

    The Newborn Chick… Not Your Hardware Store’s Chick…

  5. Watching an egg hatch is 1/2 awe 1/2 alien terror.  I had never expected the eggs to appear to breathe while the chick makes its way into the world.  Awesome! and more than a little scary…

    A Breathing, Lurching, Hatching Egg!

  6. It can take between 24 – 30 hours for a chick to go from initial pip to zipping (opening) the egg and emerging.  They sleep a lotduring those hours, so if you don’t see any movement, don’t panic!

    4:30 a.m., Sunday – Pipped vs. Zipped Eggs

  7. The chicks are strangely attracted to flashlight beams.  This was a great way to check on them and a terrible way to take a head count — they were popping like popcorn every time a light appeared.
  8. The chicks make a TON of noise in the incubator.  Enough that we could hear it in the other room.  With the door closed.  It was pretty awesome.

For those of you on the fence about bringing an incubator into your lives, I can’t recommend it enough.   This experience has taught me so much more about my flock, and I can’t wait to continue to report back on these new members!

Chick 1: Day 1
Ah, when the incubator was clean and quiet…

Chick 1: Day 2
The Difference 24 Hours Makes

Also: Follow My Rural Garden on Facebook (sidebar link) if you’d like regular chick photos.  I’m hoping to do some day-by-day images to better catalog their growth.  And take a look at other members of the Homestead Barn Hop for more interesting homesteading ideas!

Flock Update

Between stalking the incubator and a few unexpected bumps in the road this week, my flock update got a bit… delayed.  I hadn’t anticipated the amount of stress that I’m currently associating with hatching eggs in an incubator.  And up until about 11 a.m. this morning, I was sort of terrified that nothing would hatch (despite our 100% hatch rate when a neighbor hatched some chicks at school earlier this year).  However, now that one egg has successfully pipped, I’m hopeful that we may, indeed, have a little flock of chicks to call our very own in the near future.

Pipped egg: middle right on the outer edge (far right… it looks a bit like a glare in the photo, but it’s really a 2 cm hole!).
Of course, the first pip was utterly un-photographable. Hopefully we’ll be showing photos of chicks before you know it!

The official hatch was supposed to happen tomorrow, so I’m very hopeful that I’ll be reporting back tomorrow afternoon with some great news.

In other flock news, the girls are currently rocking some very fashionable saddles after one had a particularly nasty run-in with our rooster’s spurs.  She appears to be healing nicely, but it forced me to reevaluate how many of the girls have been loosing feathers (primarily to Frank who was much more aggressive, but even now to Elliot).  As a result, I spent last Sunday afternoon whipping out saddles for almost everyone, though we’ve taken to calling them capes here, as all they really seem to need is a big “S” right in the middle.

Super Chickens!

Beyond that, the girls have enjoyed some nice afternoons of free-ranging, now that I’m on summer holiday and Abby has thoroughly enjoyed her return to being a full time farm dog (rather than a part time house-dog while we’re at work).

Abby and the incubator. Peep peep?

Right now, though, she’s glued to the incubator.  I think she hears peeping… how about you?

Wedding Planning Wednesday

On Saturday, we’ll be five weeks away from the wedding.  And while most of the big pieces of wedding planning have been delicately tucked out of the way, there are a handful of small tasks that I’ve been fretting about and working on.

The largest small task was the wedding arbor.  We’re planning a  rural backyard wedding.  The dress will be fairly formal but the setting is in a sweeping back field with a great view of the rolling hills on the northern edge of our property.  That said, I was left with the task of trying to find the appropriate arch or arbor that would both blend into our landscape and suit the needs of our wedding.

I did a ton of visual research, most of which you can see over on my Pinterest site, and I had initially envisioned the arch as a surprise for Jason… until I realized that it would probably involve at least the chainsaw, if not several other power tools that we don’t keep in the garage and an extra set of hands.  Abby just wasn’t cutting it.

Last weekend, realizing how quickly my bridal shower and his stag weekend were approaching (next weekend!?!), we decided that it was time to get to work and we came up with this:

Arbor: Phase I

Now, this project is nowhere near completion yet, as it’s still a bit unstable and needs some serious trimming around the edges.  In addition to that, I’m planning on adding some curlier softwood branches to give it a bit more decoration and whimsy.

Interested in making your own?  We started by cutting four relatively similar trees (on our own property!) of about four inches in diameter (I believe we used Beech), then we cut down five trees that were one inch in diameter for bracing.  We chose hardwood because of its distinctive bark, though you could do the same with your tree of choice.

Next we stripped the branches and cut our four posts to a relatively similar 7.5 feet.  We used their natural branching V’s to place the top arbor pieces and then continued piecing with the bracing until the arbor started to come together.

I know we have a long way to go, but I thought I’d at least share this first step!

In other news, we found Jason’s Mom’s mother of the groom dress yesterday.  If your mother or your groom’s mother is still looking, I can’t recommend JC Penny enough — the service was great, the dresses were really reasonable, and she found an adorable little number that makes her feel both comfortable and gorgeous!  I don’t think we could have asked for a better day of shopping!

Preparing for the 2012 Hatch

Ready for incubation! May 20, 2012

On May 20, 2012, we placed our first batch of eggs in our shiny new Hovabator 1588 (read our pre-hatch review on Friday!).  These are the offspring of Frank and seven members of our flock (Broody & Henrietta were keeping Elliot company in the small tractor).

For the last two weeks, the incubator has been humming away in a quiet corner of our living room, as we anxiously await the arrival of our small, feathered friends.  And with their arrival looming, I finally decided that it was time to get ready.

So how do you get ready for a second year of chicks?  I started by finding all three of our brooding boxes (basement, chicken coop, backyard) and cleaning them out with a bleach and water mixture that I thoroughly rinsed out before drying.  While I was doing this, I also cleaned our feeders and waterers in the same solution since they’d been doing double duty among our outdoor pens, as we transitioned into larger drip systems. This protects the chicks from any bacteria that might have still been lingering around from last year’s hatch (even though we cleaned after that, as well).

Finally, I ran all of our dishes and smaller devices through the dishwasher, ensuring that they are sanitized and ready for a new batch of chicks.  I also picked up a few things from our local hardware store: paper towels (for those first few days on spindly legs), pine shavings, and a 50 lb. bag of Nutreena Natural Chick Starter Grower (unmedicated).  I also picked up an extra bulb for our heat lamps since I’ll be out of town for three days during their earliest stages of development, and I don’t want Jason to have to worry about running out since his schedule has been crazy lately.  I also double-checked that we still had plenty of chick-sized grit, and I’ve left myself a note that we still need marbles for the waterers.

You place marbles in waterers because after an aqueous first few weeks in the egg, young chicks are dangerously attracted to water…

After purchasing the feed, I realized that our feed storage system was completely tied up with the layer flock, and I returned to the store for two bins that could adequately house the chick feed (neatly and out of the way since Abby has a real love of chicken feed).

Feed Storage Bins

Finally, I cleaned out all of our vegetable growing supplies from the back bedroom, dusted, vacuumed and collected all of the necessary chicken gear.  We’re anticipating a complete hatch by late Sunday night, by which time I’ll have the lamps on, the bins prepared, and the room ready for the 2012 brooding season.

Waiting for chicks…

As a final note, the Texas Agricultural Extension produced a fantastic manual called “Incubating and Hatching Eggs” that came with a great incubator checklist which has allowed us to monitor just how reliable our incubator has been during the last two weeks.  If you are just starting to raise chicks, I can’t recommend this source enough!  The download is free and the appendices are fantastic and totally fulfilled my nerdy-science need for more information!

Tracking the hatch on our fridge!

Happy Hatching!

Update and Summer Blogging Plans

The first Monday after school lets out for the summer always feels like borrowed time.  Today is no different.  I bounced out of bed at four a.m. after a long weekend of cleaning the house, one of the first chores I like to get out of the way when work wraps up for any period of time.  Usually, it’s so I can focus on whatever project is at hand, but in a summer so riddled with projects, last night’s cleaning spree had more to do with shooing away mental clutter than it did coping with physical clutter (even though there was plenty of that).  A naturally neat and tidy person, there’s something about the last three weeks of school that always throws something off.

And what are these plans for summer?  Within the next eight days, we’re hoping to have our 28 eggs hatch into at least 20 chicks (hopefully more!); the wedding is now only six weeks away, preceded by my bridal shower on my thirtieth birthday(!); I’m flying down to Boston to visit my family and do some final shopping prior to the wedding in just a week; and I’m also still training for that 5K with Abby.  We’re doing okay, though we did take a week and a half off at the height of school-related craziness.  We’re refocusing this morning, starting with the blog and then moving on to running.

Most importantly, though, with a draft of my first novel sitting with a pretty awesome literary agent  (I’m trying not to be impatient about hearing back…), I’m getting ready to start my next project in earnest, by which I mean returning to my old writing schedule of early, early mornings, which means that everything else in my life is going to have to shift a bit: gardening, chickens, exercise, even blogging.

I have a vision for what I’d like this space to be, and I am still trying to get it there.  I know that I’ve tried to create a framework before; however, I’m hoping that the added hours of summer will give me the time I need to continue to take this blog to the next level… of organization and content and … maybe even design.

Here’s what I’m hoping for:

Monday: Homesteading Update (Starting Next Week)

  • This will hopefully include a regular round-up of chicken and gardening progress
  • Including a weekly photo of the chickens and garden

Wednesday: Wedding Wednesdays (At Least Until July 14)

  • More regular wedding planning/organizing updates for budget brides

Friday: Friday Flock Update

  • I will start this new feature off this Friday with a pre-hatch review of our incubator (the Hovabator 1588 with egg turner)
  • From there on, I’m hoping to fully document our chicken progress from chicks to broilers/layers

Sunday: Weekend Roundup

  • What we accomplished and plans for the next week

I’m hoping that this organization will help me work through some of my recent writing struggles and provide the balance necessary to move forward both with the new fiction project and more regular blogging.